Tuesday evening, the players and owners meet privately, without Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr in the room. Bettman and Fehr sit and wait, just outside the locked doors.
Bettman: They’re in there and we’re out here.
Fehr: Your powers of observation are amazing, you know that? Almost as amazing as your draconian negotiation tactics.
Bettman: Draconian…that’s a big word for a union rep.
Fehr: Yeah, I have some bigger ones, wanna hear them?
Bettman: Save them for your dipshit brother.
Fehr: Speaking of dipshits, how about I save them for Daly?
Bettman: You can try but I doubt he will give a damn. He has heard worse from me.
Fehr: I am sure he has…is there anyone that likes you?
Bettman: I am not you, Don. I am not in this for a popularity contest. While you suck on the PR tit, I am suffocating your players until they either surrender or die.
Fehr: And if they don’t surrender? Your owners get fucked.
Bettman: Fucked? Ha. I actually believed you were smarter than that. For ninety percent of them, the team is a tax shelter. You think a billionaire gives a shit if he loses millions? It’s a line item tax deduction. They will make it back ten fold when I squeeze your boys’ nuts for all the juice it can deliver and we start the season.
Fehr: Nice visual imagery, asshole.
(Bettman shifts in his seat. His scowl deepens and he gets fidgety. Fehr notices)
Fehr: What’s your problem?
Fehr: What, you wondering what they’re saying in there?
Bettman: I don’t give a shit what they’re saying. I am in charge here.
Fehr: Yeah, you’re in charge of occupying space out here while they are making progress in there.
Bettman: Progress? I am progress. I am the reason there is an NHL, the reason it’s successful, the reason those thirty ingrates make money and the high school and college drop outs you represent get paid millions.
Fehr: You are the reason there is a lockout right now.
Bettman: Goddam right and it will go on until I say it stops…
(Fehr says nothing. Bettman looks at him)
Bettman: What, no witty comeback?
Fehr: No. When you’re right, you’re right.
Bettman: What is that, some kind of joke?
Fehr: No. No joke. You’re right. You are in control.
Bettman: Fuck you…this is a set up for an insult.
Fehr: Jesus, you can’t even take a compliment.
Bettman: A compliment? From you??
Fehr: Yes. One you earned.
(There is an awkward silence)
Fehr: I admire your resolve, your stubborn, sometimes self diluted resolve but resolve nevertheless. You have a lot of guts putting yourself out like that, making yourself this unpopular with, well, everybody just to get the best deal for your 30 clients.
(Bettman’s unchanged expression is locked on Fehr)
Bettman: You never cease to amaze me, Don. Just when I had you pegged as a mindless union puppet, you say…that. Can I get that little speech in writing, by the way?
Fehr: Sure, after we reach an agreement, or should I say after they reach an agreement, right?
Bettman: Hah. The assholes probably will. Jacobs is probably in there losing his mind right now while Tanenbaum is trying to persuade Crosby and Toews that cutting their contract length means they will be Maples Leafs even sooner.
Fehr: Yeah, what are Parros and Westgarth doing, you think?
Bettman: Nothing, just like their NHL careers.
(They both laugh)
Fehr: So, how is the family, Gary?
Bettman (Pauses): …okay I guess. (He massages his scowl) Actually, Don, not so great.
Fehr: Oh, sorry to hear that. What’s up?
Bettman (Looks at Fehr and then looks down): I don’t wanna talk about it.
Fehr: Come on, what else are we going to do? Tell me, maybe I can help.
Bettman (Breathes deep and exhales): Man, this is awkward.
Fehr: Come on, Gary…
Bettman: No…it’s just…I’ve met someone else.
Fehr: Oh…um…have you told your wife?
Bettman: Not yet. Not sure I can bring myself to do it.
Fehr: Honesty is the best policy, you know.
Bettman: You forget who you’re talking to?
Fehr (Laughs): Come on, I know it’s just a show. There is a sweet, sensitive man in there.
(Bettman blushes, looks down)
Fehr: So, who is the lucky girl? And when have you had time to meet anybody? You and I have been embroiled in this for months, shit you have been in more phone calls and in meetings with me than probably anyone else…
(Bettman says nothing)
Fehr: So, do tell.
Bettman: I can’t.
Fehr: Come on, man. Do I know her?
(Bettman shifts in his chair)
Bettman: You do know…him…
Fehr (freezes): Oh…
Bettman: I shouldn’t have said anything.
Fehr: No, no, it’s not that, I am just…a little surprised.
Bettman: Great, now you’ll probably use this against me. What are you going to, break this to the media?
Fehr (laughs): Come on Gary, I am not like that…but if I need to, only to Allan Walsh…
Bettman (smiles): Yeah, that asshole would have a field day with this, right?
(They both laugh)
Fehr: There is nothing wrong with that, Gary…in fact, any guy would be happy to have you…
Bettman: You mean that?
Fehr: Hell yes, I do. You are a successful and powerful businessman, you are on top of the world, smart, articulate, handsome…
Fehr: Um…yeah, you are a damn good looking guy. Look at how you fill that suit, the way you carry yourself, you’re an impressive man, Gary…(a silence intervenes but Fehr is not done)…and since we are confessing, I don’t mind saying that I share your struggle.
Bettman: What do you mean?
Fehr: You know what I mean…I understand. I know. Come on, don’t make me say it.
Bettman: Say what?
Fehr: Gary, you know.
Bettman: Know what?
Fehr: You jerk…
Bettman: Tell me, Don.
Fehr: I am…
Fehr: Attracted to you! There, I said it. Now, you can ridicule me because clearly you don’t feel the same and whoever this other guy is will have you instead…
(Fehr turns away)
Fehr (holding back the emotions): What?
Bettman: You’re my man…
(Fehr turns toward Bettman…Bettman’s beady little eyes stare into Don’s dead gray)
Fehr: I am your man…
(Bettman smiles. Fehr smiles. Bettman leaps into Fehr’s arms, the two press their lips against each other as saliva squirts from each corner of their mouth. Bettman grasps Fehr’s crotch and Fehr squeals in delight and sticks his tongue deep into Bettman’s right ear)
Fehr: Oh Gary!
Bettman: Oh Don!!
(The doors from the meeting burst open)
Jeremy Jacobs: What the fuck!
Jonathan Toews: Oh my God!
Ron Burkle: What the hell are you two doing!?
Manny Malhotra: I’m blind! I’m blind!!
(Gary and Don dart away from each other and try to regain composure. Each man simultaneously looks at the other’s crotch and then their own and realize they would be hard pressed to come up with any believable story now)
Larry Tanenbaum: So, you want to explain what this is all about?
Bettman: Fuck you, Larry. This doesn’t concern you.
Fehr: That’s right. What we do, outside of these negotiations is none of your business, any of your business!
Bettman: Enough about this. Did you guys reach a deal or not?
(The players and owners looked at each other. Jacobs nods to Crosby to tell them. Crosby takes a deep breath)
Sidney Crosby: Boys…
(Gary Bettman wakes up in a cold sweat and nearly falls out of his chair. He looks around. The doors to the meeting are still locked. Donald Fehr sits quietly a few feet away, fiddling with his phone. Bettman realizes it was just a beautiful dream)
Bettman (trying to resume normal breathing patterns): So…they’re still in there…
Bettman: No…um, progress?
Fehr (smiles): Nope.
(Bettman looks around, still reeling from the dream. He notices Fehr’s grin get wider and more mischievous. Bettman gets a nervous knot in his stomach)
Bettman (clears his throat): So, what are you doing?
Fehr: Allan Walsh.
Bettman (his beady little eyes try to widen but can’t): …um, what for?
Fehr: Hey Gary?
Fehr: You got a little saliva on the corner of your mouth…